4 Types of Nerve Damage

Diabetes comes with several health complications. One condition that damages the nerves is called “diabetic neuropathy.” There are four types of diabetic neuropathy.

Diabetic neuropathy: Nerve damage that is caused by diabetes

Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy is the most common type of diabetic neuropathy. It affects nerves in your feet and legs. It also may affect your hands and arms.

Symptoms may include:

  • Numbness
  • Reduced ability to feel pain or temperature changes
  • Tingling
  • Burning
  • Shooting pain (that may be worse at night)
  • Extreme sensitivity to touch (even the weight of a bed sheet is painful)
  • Weak muscles
  • Loss of reflexes
  • Serious foot problems (e.g., ulcers, infections, deformities, and bone and joint damage)

Autonomic Neuropathy

Autonomic neuropathy is the second most common type of diabetic neuropathy. It affects nerves in your internal organs.

Symptoms may include:

  • Don’t know you have low blood sugar
  • Frequent urinary tract infections
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Trouble emptying your bladder
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sensation of fullness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Erectile dysfunction in men
  • Vaginal dryness and other sexual difficulties in women
  • Increased or decreased sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Drops in blood pressure when getting up or lying down
  • Problems staying warm or keeping cool
  • Trouble adjusting your eyes to dark or light
  • Increased heart rate even when you’re resting

Focal Neuropathy

Focal neuropathy is the third most common form of diabetic retinopathy. It affects single nerves, most often in your hand, head, torso, and leg.

Symptoms may include:

  • Double vision
  • Difficulty focusing your eyes
  • Paralysis on one side of your face
  • Pain in your shin or foot
  • Pain in the front of your thigh
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome:
    • Numbness or tingling in your fingers or hands
    • Weakness in your hand that may cause you to drop things

Proximal Neuropathy

Proximal neuropathy is a rare form of diabetic retinopathy. It affects nerves in your hips, thighs, and buttocks. It usually affects only one side of your body.

Symptoms may include:

  • Severe pain in the buttock, hip or thigh
  • Weak and shrinking thigh muscles
  • Difficulty getting up or sitting down
  • Pain in your chest or stomach

This type of neuropathy can be very painful and debilitating.

Preventing and Managing Diabetic Neuropathy

It is essential to manage your blood sugar levels and maintain a healthy lifestyle to prevent or delay the onset of any form of diabetic neuropathy. Remember the two ways to prevent type 2 diabetes.

If you have diabetes, your chances of developing nerve damage go up as you get older. Your chances also go up the longer you have diabetes. That’s why it’s important to manage your diabetes to prevent health problems like diabetic neuropathy.